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PIA Press Release

ACFTA promotes partnerships, joint ventures

by Danielle Venz

Cagayan de Oro City (18 November) -- A free-trade agreement (FTA) between China and Southeast Asia that includes the Philippines brings not only new business opportunities in terms of increased sales but also lots of partnerships and joint ventures which could spearhead growth.

These benefits of a trade agreement were confirmed by Antonio Tiu, president of Agri Nurture Inc. (ANI), during the recent FTA information campaign organized by the Department of Trade Industry (DTI).

"With the growing power of Chinese consumers, we are actually able to end up not just trading. Instead of just selling, looking for buyers, we actually generated a lot of partnerships and joint ventures," he stressed.

Tiu cited his company's partnership with China's state-run agricultural firm Beidahuang Group on rice seedling production seen to help the administration achieve its goal of ending the rice shortage in the country in the next three years.

Noting China's aggressive spending in terms of research and development, he said, ANI has also tied up with the Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences wherein they are jointly developing some good seedlings for the Filipino vegetable farmers.

"These are all good sides and positive prospects on the improvement in bilateral trade as a result of reduction in tariff," he stressed.

However, Tiu advised other exporters keen on penetrating the huge Chinese market to be prepared to continuously learn and adapt its different culture and environment before getting into the market.

"The process of learning the business, understanding the culture and getting to the right market, the right partner and the right product is not something that happens overnight," he said.

"The more the challenges, the bigger the reward particularly in the field of agriculture. But there are so many things that we have to overcome, so many agencies that we have to engage ourselves with for collaboration and dialogues," Tiu shared.

ANI is one of the country's top fresh mango exporters. It also supplies other homegrown fruits such as banana, pineapple and papaya to customers in Hong Kong, Mainland China, and the Middle Eastern and European regions.

Jason Lao, executive director of the Foreign Trade Service Corps, said that while China offers huge business opportunities for Filipino exporters, the challenge for exporters to conquer this market goes beyond selling.

Lao said they need to ensure innovation in products and services and must also pay attention to contractual and intellectual property agreements.

Poised to be the world's largest economy in the world this year, China's current size and potential to grow is bigger, making it a very attractive market. It is the most populated country in the world with 1.3 billion people, Lao added.

"Its domestic market is massive; demand for a number of commodities have grown quite strongly," he noted.

Lao also identified top Philippine exports to China enjoying zero tariffs resulting from the ASEAN-China FTA. These are resource and agro-based products including bananas, crude coconut oil and mineral oils and fuels; chemicals and plastics; metals; machinery; and auto parts.

Helen Chen, First Secretary of the Embassy of China, for her part, said Philippine mineral and agriculture products have comparative advantage in the Chinese market. (PHILEXPORT) [top]

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